New federal regulations for electronic cigarettes go into effect today, requiring greater examination of the products and making it more difficult for minors to purchase the devices.
Local store owners say the new regulations will eventually kill all small manufacturers and store owners because nearly every e-cigarette product must go through an application process to deem whether it can continue to be sold.
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“This is going to wipe out the e-cigarette business and leave Big Tobacco running the industry,” said Chris Voudris, who owns four retail shops called Vapor Haus in the Miami Valley.
“The cost of regulations will be too costly for small companies to compete.
There are more than 12,000 e-cigarette stores in the U.S., including around 400 in Ohio. Voudris estimated there are at least 20 in the Miami Valley.
Manufacturers and store owners will be able to sell their products for up to two years while they submit a new production application, plus an additional year while the FDA reviews it.
Besides the new regulation of selling to minors, Voudris said the FDA rules are not clear.
“We’ve never sold to minors,” Voudris said. “We’ve always carded anyone who looks like they are under the age of 27.”
In most vape shops, trying out new vape liquid is a part of the experience of shopping for products. Under the new regulations, vape shops cannot give free samples to customers.
Merchants will be required to ask for identification from customers who appear to be under the age of 27. And vending machine sales of e-cigarettes are prohibited unless the machines are in adult-only facilities.
Also covered are premium, hand-rolled cigars, as well as hookah and pipe tobacco. Before the new regulations, there was no federal law prohibiting retailers from selling e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco or cigars to minors, though almost all states already prohibit such sales.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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